Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I tried to buy local today. I wanted a tin of apricots. Not a big deal I thought as we live near an apricot area. The first tin said 'made in China', the second tin said 'product of Australia. The third tin which I thought was a local brand said ' product of South Africa.' I began to lose the plot about here! Two tins left....

One said product of Malaysia - didn't even know they grew the things AAAAAARGH

And the last tin said........ wait for it.........'Product of Chile'.

I gave it up and went apricotless to the checkout.

I think the shelves are telling me to go bottle my own!

Next year I think we'll be making a short trip to the orchard zone - about an hour away at most.

viv in nz

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

wet, wet, wet

It's been raining for a week and when it didn't rain it sleeted or snowed. I'm so behind with the laundry that I did it anyhow and hung it out regardless. There was a small patch of sun round midday, between showers, that almost dried some of it so now it's hanging all over the living room on coat hangers.

The cats keep getting wet and then drying their paws on our laps (jolly cold paws too!). I think they do it on purpose sometimes. I forgive Skilly (short for skillsaw and she deserves the name - she's a great ratter) though...she caught a mouse in the back of the kitchen. One down and we still need a few more mouse traps.

Hubby helped out my mum getting some flowers from the garden and came back with two beautiful camelias - first out this year. I know flowers aren't 'practical' but they do lift your spirits.

Youngest is now 10. Doesn't seem that long since he was a baby. He was adorable then but I don't think I'd better say that now (though I still think so).

I've nearly done for my fingers doing patchwork this week but the result looks quite good so I might get on and finish it for the local competition. I'm going to try for the odd photo in here so you can see what I'm talking about. It really depends on hubby though as I'm rather illiterate on computers.

viv in nz

Monday, July 28, 2008

Seems to be a long weekend here. Spent far too much of it being cold and damp and then had a birthday party on top. I sent them off to the movies to see Prince Caspian. That seems to have been a hit. Then bacon and eggs for lunch (birthday boy's request) followed by a mildly decorated cake. I'll have to rethink it next year candle wise. 10 seems about the limit on that cake size!

After that they played games and then went home happy. Was really simple. No party games, no party baggies, no lollies or icecream or chippies. One creamed sponge and a plate of fruit with lots of grapes (favourite food) and that was it. I hope the next birthday is that simple!

Total cost.... one small bottle of cream, one sponge cake (locally made with jam and fresh cream centre), one bag of grapes (largish) and tickets for four with one large pot of popcorn plus 4 eggs and 5 rashers of bacon and some spinach leaves for under the egg on the toast and they'd have got that for lunch anyhow.

Lets hear it for great cheap birthday bashes :)

viv in nz

Thursday, July 24, 2008

green by design or accident.

I've always been green to a large extent but I don't think I can take much credit for that really. In my generation there was still the after effects of the various wars and the great depression which my parents lived with. They learned the hard way to look after their things because it might be a very long time before they got another. Food was never to be wasted - it was expensive. It was always home grown where possible and always prepared from scratch. Take aways were what you had when you went on holiday and even then you only got them once. They were really special!

My mother still remembers rationing. There was an allowance of butter (for example) every week per person. My grandmother would take a large share for cooking and baking and the rest would be divided into small glass jars (one each) and the amount in the jar had to last you a week for your toast or bread or potatoes. Mum says it was about 2 inches square! She never could abide waste and taught us the same. She also taught us about moderation - never eat too much of any one thing but do eat a moderate amount of everything.

A normal day would begin with a plate of porridge and milk and a glass of fresh orange juice which we kids took turns to juice. There would be a small package of dried fruit or a raw carrot or a small apple for morning break and we would go home for dinner midday (only the bus kids stayed at school for lunch and this was home made too) where we would be fed three veg and a small helping of meat - no pudding in our house with dinner. There would be a home made cordial drink after school with a 'piece'. This was a cake or biscuit normally and mostly made by my grandmother after she came to live next door. She loved to bake but was an indifferent cook. My mother was a good cook but didn't really like baking.... it was a good arrangement especially after Mum took a part time job to cover our higher education.

Apart from this there were always apples, pears or whatever else was in season and then for tea we would get scrambled eggs or perhaps a pudding with toast to follow and that was it. If it was on your plate it had to be eaten and woe betide if you asked for seconds and couldn't finish might have to eat them cold for breakfast! (this applied to firsts too especially veges!)

We were very healthy. We walked the mile to school from the age of 5 escorted by an older child to make sure we didn't dawdle and then home and back after dinner and home again after school. Dad would drop us off some mornings on his way to work which was great. At nine we were considered old enough for bikes and the freedom of a bike was heaven after walking - we were always running late when walking - there was always a distraction somewhere - puddles to jump in, streams to investigate etc. Bikes meant you got just a little more time for whatever was going and still make the school gate as the second bell went. (there was a five minute warning bell that could be heard from the creek except in high winds)

I have tried to do this with my kids too although the distances have meant using buses more. That freedom to explore just can't be beat. I hate the idea of too much structure and restriction during free time. Teach the basics of safety and good behaviour, then let them go do stuff.

I think I got a little off topic here :) but it's all part of life. How can you be green if you've never been allowed to develop a relationship with the world around you ( or independent thought or imagination or wonder, or testing your limits - I got stuck up a tree for half an hour once before I got up enough courage to get down. The euphoria I felt once I did make it down was worth every minute.........).

Apart from that we lived in secondhand clothes (quite a lot were cut down from adult clothes and made almost as new by my mother) and preserving etc was just a part of life. I learned this stuff almost by osmosis.

Mums final efforts were to make us (me and my brother on alternate days) cook Sunday dinners and teas for almost a year just so she could trust us to look after ourselves when we went flatting for University and the last year of high school. Our parents put up with some rather odd dinners at times but we did learn! You don't waste food when you have to prepare and cook it yourself.

Then she let us go.

I think that will be the hardest thing I'll have to do as well and when I say let go I don't mean abandon but just to retreat into the background unless you are asked for help and try not to interfere too much.

The mother is also my friend.
And I've continued to go green......probably about lettuce green. Not at broccoli green yet but still improving :)

viv in nz

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Well. its been a busy day. I seem to have spent most of it with needle and thread as planned but there was the odd interruption. Hubby's cold has kept him home again ( cough cough cough from through there!) and it rained all day (it just knew I needed a load of washing done - oh well maybe tomorrow) and the kids missed the bus from school. Had to go pick them up or leave them to soak for an hour! Figured one bad cold was quite enough for the present so went to get them and found they'd taken refuge with a neighbour near the school. They were only mildly wet :)

Anyhow I did get most of my piecing done and I might be able to think better tomorrow (although there's still some coughing in the background).

The other news is that I'm now using Linux almost exclusively and tis great! With a better video card I could finally dump windows for good but I have to do some saving for that. It might take me somewhat longer to crash this system and it is so easy to use once its set up - it is a big asset to have a hubby in IT as well as a brother doing a masters degree in some sort of computerish engineering. (Perhaps a little more useful than a doctorate in asparagas which my brother in law got).

They are telling us to expect snow tomorrow so that will be interesting. Probably won't come to much though. It tends to melt a bit fast round here so about 2 hours is the normal limit before slush sets in and then just water.

See you later, its bedtime here :)

viv in nz

I read too much!

I've been reading lots of doom and gloom on some of the more technical sites and it is rather depressing. I am beginning to think that perhaps they are a bit too doom and gloom and should get outside into the fresh air a bit more or something. Or at least talk to someone positive for a bit. Life is worth living still especially at a local level.

It's a bit late to write much tonight but will get back here shortly


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Pocket calculators came in around late high school and they were mega expensive. I could live for half the year on the price of something that would now be considered a really crap give away. I didn't get one until I'd almost finished University. I still have it and it still works too.

Then there were computers. My younger brother did computers when it was all punch cards. There was always confetti round our flat and on one notable occasion he tripped on the hall rug and spewed hundreds of cards all over......BEFORE he'd numbered them! I don't suppose many younger people would even know about those cards. They were used to program computers before floppy discs came in. And floppy discs really were floppy to start with but compared to cards they were wonderful. I might add that I wouldn't have dared to even go near a computer - they were for specialists, and that probably accounts for the phobic feeling I get every time I try something new on this machine. I still remember the absolute awe we felt when a friend bought an apple 2 while on a trip. It even played chess!

I went to art school about this time and became a potter for many years but I did take a course in business computers eventually. Our screens were a beautiful :) shade of green. After a day of using them every white surface looked pink. Amber screens came next and they were better and finally the sort of screen I use now in full, glorious colour.

I was 35 when I first got my own computer but it was such fun even without the internet. My husband ran a bulletin board for several years and that was lots of fun. That died when the internet arrived properly. I don't regret that too much because the internet is so much better!

I'm now wondering what will come next. I hope it will be green and sustainable whatever it is.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

technology then

There was an interesting post from Chile about how people use the blogs and I thought about just how technology has affected the way I view things.

I am old enough to remember a time when there was no TV to say nothing about computers and the like. We listened to the radio in the early evening for a childrens programme and that was about it. My mother, being a very musical person, had a stereo system and a heap of classical music. She also got us a variety of stories on record. These were mostly fairy tales and Winnie the Pooh with the occasional cartoon recording. We wore those records out repeating them on
Saturday mornings. (My dad's favourite trick was to wake us up by playing a brass band record very loudly on Saturday morning.)

Then when I was about 5 one of the neighbours got a black and white TV. It was very fuzzy because we were so far from the translator but it was fascinating. We thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. I can still remember the programme. It was an early Gerry Anderson called Supercar.

It was about a year after that and I was 6 when we got our own TV. Now I knew what our recorded cartoons looked like. That was wierd to start with. My imagination was forced to change to fit in with what was on the screen. I never really liked those cartoons that we already had in recorded form. They just didn't fit. I've had an aversion to filmed versions of favourite books and recordings ever since.

However, the rest was magical and it was perhaps lucky that there were only a few programs per day and that we were sent to bed early or we wouldn't have done anything else. (transmission time was 4.30 in the afternoon until about 11 at night and only one channel)

I was nine when I first remember seeing a film. I believe I had seen one as an infant but these are the first I really recall. One was The Sound of Music which was one of the highlights of that holiday and the other was The Incredible Journey which scared me witless and gave me nightmares for a week much to the consternation of my Grandmother. I have never forgotten the wonder of the first film, but by the same token, I am unable to forget the second. It is too easy to forget just what an impact a film can have on an inexperienced child. (My sister had this problem too. She was 4 when she saw her first movie, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and she screamed so loud Dad had to take her out. He did manage to get her back for the end of it.)

The next thing was getting a day off school to watch the first landing on the moon. My grandfather made a recording of that on his tape machine. He also made a heap of family recordings some of which are now on cd and are hilarious. (especially the one where he taped my aunt and my mother doing a run through of a piano duet when he wasn't supposed to be taping yet!)

Colour TV didn't happen until I was beginning my teens. Now we take it for granted but it was really something at the time. That almost brings me up to the first pocket calculators but I'll save that for part two.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Shop

We shut the shop a few weeks back so that we could do some renovations. (we means me and my mother mostly). I think we can remain open at least some of the time during the off season because I am mostly home anyhow. So we got into the shelving and built two big shelves on which we have made papier mache models of the local landscape. They haven't dried yet though so we have covered them in fabric for the jaffa race which comes off on monday next.

Last year there were around 8000 people on the street so hopefully we can sell a few knitted items to them. I rather like living on the worlds steepest street. You get to meet so many interesting people and sometimes sell them things (I'm not a pushy salesperson :). We only make things from the local environment and a few christmas items etc and I refuse to sell anything made outside our city. I'd like to have that include all our materials too but this isn't possible at present although quite a lot is made completely locally (I have a friend with sheep who produces her own spun wool). I think the display is definitely an improvement and maybe this year I'll be able to install a second double glazed window and some more insulation. Owning an almost 100 year old house has its down sides but by the time we've finished it should be draught proof at least.

go the jaffas

Saturday, July 5, 2008

It's snowing and raining here today. Very cold and wet...just the day for a funeral. Uncle Roddy's funeral to be exact. I liked Uncle Roddy but I can't really be sorry because he was so ill for so long that it doesn't really seem fair to hope he would stay.

last night we had the lantern walk with the kids. They gave us a concert first which was really fun and then we tried to light the lanterns. That was ok and the kids had made some real beauties for the walk in the midwinter dark. Only problem was the wind. It blew them all out so we did a quick walk, mostly in the dark, and then lit them all and sang the lantern songs inside. After that there was a shared tea with home grown sausages and fresh bread and home made sauces. Then the men tried out the bonfire but that too was affected by the wind...sparks it was put out and we all went back inside for dessert.

One of the parents had made the most amazing chocolate cakes with beetroot in them. They were divine!!! He had also made a number of pies and flans with apple and coconut and caramel which were also absolutely wonderful.

By the time we left it was late and we were warm on the inside even if it was still frozen on the outside. We brought an extra child home for an overnight and went to bed earlyish for us (but late for the boys). It is now school holidays for a couple of weeks. The boys are going out to grandma's farm for 3 days so I will have a nice quiet time to try to get the diorama finished in the shop in time for the jaffa race :)